City Council votes to raise mayor's pay

Members of the Blackfoot City Council approved an increase in the mayor's salary at Tuesday's meeting.
Following a motion by councilman Bart Brown to raise the salary to $60,000 per year, members voted 3-1 for approval with councilman Chris Jensen dissenting.
"A lot of city employees have been getting 3 percent raises," Jensen said. "This would be an awfully quick jump."
Council Rich Woodfin had proposed an ordinance regarding the mayor's salary at a meeting in May. It is currently $45,000. At the previous meeting the council had decided to do some research at compensation for some similar-sized or surrounding cities.
Woodfin noted that the Rexburg mayor receives $63,000 per year while Idaho Falls' mayor receives $78,000. The mayors of Mountain Home and Chubbuck, both of which have populations close to that of Blackfoot, receive $45,000 per year.
"It needs to be raised," Jensen said as he made a motion to raise the salary to $55,000. "The salary is below where it needs to be."
After Mayor Mike Virtue suggested a possible travel allowance, Jensen offered a motion to raise the salary to $55,000 a year. Woodfin suggested that the council consider adding a $5,000 per year travel allowance for the next two years.
Jensen eventually withdrew his motion. Brown offered his with the recommendation that travel expenses by dealt with using established procedures.
Virtue will not be affected by the ordinance because he's not running for re-election. The pay raise will take effective Jan. 1, 2014. Voters will elect a new mayor in November. Would-be candidates have until August to declare for the post.
Only Dan Cravens, an economist with the Idaho Department of Labor, has declared to date.
In other business, the council voted to explore possible sale of a small piece of city property on Gwen Loop to the owner of a nearby property. Virtue noted the parcel is so small it has little value to the city.
However, Virtue said, there's a possible problem because the city received the property from the Bureau of Land Management for recreational use. As a result, the city may not be able to sell it.
Rex Orgill of Planning and Zoning recommended approval of a re-plat of the Mertyalmack Park subdivision. That property is near the Castle Daycare facility on US91. The council approved that move.
Reporting on the Airport Road construction project, Virtue noted there has been a small hangup. Construction workers will need to replace a gas line which may delay completion of the project a week.
Virtue said the project should be completed in three weeks.